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EXPLAINED: How SAS's decision to switch airline alliance will affect travellers

Richard Orange
Richard Orange - [email protected]
EXPLAINED: How SAS's decision to switch airline alliance will affect travellers
SAS Eurobonus Gold members will gain access to the SkyTeam lounge in Istanbul (pictured) but will lose access to lounges elsewhere. Photo: SkyTeam

Scandinavia's SAS airline has announced it is moving to SkyTeam from the Star Alliance, with knock-on effects on routes, points and lounges for travellers from Sweden, Denmark and Norway.


In a statement posted on its website, the airline said the change would occur from August 31st 2024. 

SAS co-founded the Star Alliance, through which it is currently tied to 28 airlines, including Germany's Lufthansa, the US's United, Singapore Airlines, and Air China. 

But after Air France-KLM bought a $1.2bn stake in the airline last autumn, it has always been only a matter of time before the airline switched to their rival SkyTeam alliance, which includes Delta Airlines in the US, China Airlines in China, and Korean Airlines in the rest of Asia. 

Irina Busic, SAS's press officer in Sweden, told The Local that the details of the switch had still to be decided. 

"It's complex to change flight alliance," she said. "There are a lot of contracts and agreements that have to be reviewed/renegotiated and IT-systems to be integrated." 

But here are some of the things that are likely to change. 

Flight destinations and routes

The change will affect the partners SAS has in flights to far-flung destinations it does not serve directly, meaning passengers flying to the US are likely to fly the US leg of their journey with Delta rather than United Airlines. Those travelling to China are more likely to fly China Airlines than Air China and those travelling to Southeast Asia, more likely to fly with Korean Airlines than Singapore Airlines. 

The switch may also change the airports where SAS customers have stopovers or layovers, with fewer stops at Frankfurt, Lufthansa's main European hub, and more at Amsterdam Schiphol (KLM) or Paris Charles de Gaulle (Air France). 

In the US, SkyTeam member Delta Airlines's biggest hub is at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, whereas the biggest hub for Star Alliance member United Airlines is Chicago–O'Hare, which could affect where SAS passengers travelling to the US have to change planes. 

Because SkyTeam is a smaller alliance, with 19 members to the Star Alliance's 26 members, the switch may also reduce the number of destinations SAS can serve though their alliance, although in its press release, the airline said it would still be able to offer customers flights to 1,060 destinations. 


What difference will the change make to SAS's bonus programme? 

SAS said in the statement that its EuroBonus programme would remain "largely the same", with loyal SAS customers keeping the points they have accrued and still able to spend them on flights with partner airlines. 

From September 1st, the airline said that EuroBonus members could enjoy "similar benefits" to today with "most" SkyTeam alliance airlines. 

Among other things, this means that EuroBonus Silver members will get extra baggage and priority check-in when travelling with most SkyTeam airlines. 

EuroBonus Gold and Diamond members, meanwhile, will receive benefits like "lounge access, fast track and priority boarding" when travelling with most SkyTeam airlines.

SAS customers will be able to use EuroBonus points to book bonus travel on most SkyTeam airlines for all flights from September 1st.

Until August 31st 2024, EuroBonus members will be able to use their points to book trips on Star Alliance airlines using the Star Alliance Bonus Trip booking tool, even if the travel date is after August 31st 2024.


What difference will it make to access to airport lounges? 

SkyTeam members offer around 750 lounges, with six dedicated SkyTeam lounges in airports around the world. This is slightly fewer than the roughly 1,000 lounges operated by Star Alliance members. 



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Joe 2024/04/14 15:45
It's going to be a big downgrade in terms of quality of the alliance beyond Scandinavia. I wonder if and how Star Alliance will try to cover the gap there is in Scandinavia as it will be now dominated by SkyTeam and one world.
Simon 2024/04/09 08:19
Tinsy detail, but Korean Airlines based in North East Asia, not South East. Thanks
  • Richard Orange 2024/04/09 09:08
    Thanks for pointing that out. It's been corrected.
Stanislas Mourdon 2024/04/08 18:14
There are already changes for this summer. I used to fly back to Lyon (France) via Frankfort or Munich, but this is already no more available for this summer. With strange routing, going to Istanbul instead. Despite what SAS is claiming, it looks like Lufthansa has already reduced connections to its network

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